My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT: THE FATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH
UNTIL THE GENERAL JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO THE HOLY
Death is the common lot of men. But for man, it is NOT AN ANNIHILATION, but ONLY THE SEPARATION OF THE SOUL FROM THE BODY. The truth of the IMMORTALITY OF THE HUMAN SOUL is one of the fundamental truths of Christianity. "God is NOT a God of the dead, but of the LIVING for ALL live unto Him" (Matthew 22:32; Luke 20:38). In the New Testament Sacred Scripture death is called "THE DECREASE (DEPARTURE) OF THE SOUL ("I will endeavor that you may be able after my decrease to have these things always in remembrance" (2 Peter 1:15). It is called THE DELIVERANCE OF THE SOUL FROM PRISON" (2 Corinthians 5:1-4); the putting off of the body, ("knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle," (2 Peter 1:14); a DISSOLVING ("having a desire to depart" [be dissolved], "and to be with Christ, which IS FOR BETTER"; (Philippians 1:23); A DEPARTURE ("the time of my departure is at hand" (2Timothy 4:6); A SLEEP, (David "FELL ASLEEP," (Acts 13:36).
The STATE OF THE SOUL AFTER DEATH, according to the clear testimony of the word of God, is NOT UNCONSCIOUS but CONSCIOUS (for example, according to the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus, (Luke 16:19-31). After death man IS SUBJECTED TO A JUDGMENT WHICH IS CALLED "PARTICULAR" to distinguish it from the General Judgment. It is easy in the sight of the Lord to reward a man "ON THE DAY OF DEATH ACCORDING TO HIS CONDUCT," says the most wise son of Sirach (11:26). The same thought is expressed by the holy Apostle Paul: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT" (Hebrews 9:27). The Apostle presents the judgment as something which follows IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DEATH OF A MAN (person), and evidently he understands this NOT AS THE GENERAL JUDGMENT, BUT AS THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT, as the Holy Fathers of the Church have interpreted this passage. "TODAY SHALT THOU BE WITH MME IN PARADISE" (Luke 23:43), the Lord uttered to the REPENTED THIEF.
In Sacred Scripture is not given to us to know how the Particular Judgment occurs after a man’s death. We can judge of this only IN PART from separate expressions which are found in the word of God. Thus, it is natural to think that in the Particular Judgment also a large part in the fate of a man after death is taken BOTH BY GOOD and BY EVIL ANGELS: THE FORMER ARE IMPLEMENTS OF GOD’S MERCY, AND THE LATTER–BY GOD’S ALLOWANCE–ARE IMPLEMENTS OF GOD’S JUSTICE. In the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that Lazarus "was carried by the Angels into Abraham’s bosom" (Luke 16:22). In the Parable of the foolish rich man he is told: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee" (lit. they shall take," (Luke 12:20); evidently, it is evil powers who will "TAKE IT" (Saint John Chrysostom). For, on the one hand, the Angels of these "little ones," in the Lord’s own words, ALWAYS BEHOLD THE FACE OF THE HEAVENLY FATHER (Matthew 18:10), and likewise AT THE END OF THE WORLD THE LORD WILL SEND HIS ANGELS WHO WILL "SEVER THE WICKED FROM AMONG THE JUST, AND SHALL CAST THEM INTO THE FURNACE OF FIRE" (Matthew 13:49); and on the other hand, "OUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL, AS A ROARING LION, WALKETH ABOUT, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR" (1 Peter 5:8), and the air as it were, IS FILLED WITH THE SPIRITS OF EVIL UNDER THE HEAVENS, AND THEIR PRINCE IS CALLED THE "PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR" (Ephesians 6:12; 2:2).
Based on these indications of Sacred Scripture, from antiquity, the Holy Fathers of the Church have depicted the path of the soul after its separation from the body AS A PATH THROUGH SUCH SPIRITUAL EXPANSES, WHERE THE DARK POWERS SEEK TO DEVOUR THOSE WHO ARE WEAK SPIRITUALLY, AND WHERE THEREFORE ONE IS IN SPECIAL NEED OF BEING DEFENDED BY THE HEAVENLY ANGELS AND SUPPORTED BY PRAYER ON THE PART OF THE LIVING MEMBERS OF THE Church. Among the ancient Holy Fathers the following speak of this Saints Ephraim the Syrian, Athanasius the Great, Macarius the Great, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and others.
A pictorial depiction of this path is presented in the life of Saint Basil the New (+March 26), where the departed blessed Theodora, in a vision during sleep communicated to the disciple of Basil, tells what she has seen and experienced after the separation of her soul from the body and during the ascent of the soul into the Heavenly Mansions.
Concerning the state of the soul after the Particular Judgment, the Orthodox Church teaches the following: "We believe that the souls of the dead are IN A STATE OF BLESSEDNESS OR TORMENT ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS. After being separated from the body, THEY IMMEDIATELY PASS OVER EITHER TO JOY OR INTO SORROW AND GRIEF; however, THEY DO NOT FEEL EITHER COMPLETE BLESSEDNESS OR COMPLETE TORMENT. For complete blessedness or complete torment, each one RECEIVES AFTER THE General Resurrection WHEN THE SOU IS REUNITED WITH THE BODY IN WHICH IT LIVED IN VIRTUE OR IN VICE" (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18). Thus the Orthodox Church DISTINGUISHES TWO DIFFERENT CONDITIONS AFTER THE Particular Judgment: one for the Righteous, another for sinners, in other words, PARADISE and HELL. The Church does NOT recognize the Roman Catholic teaching of three conditions: (1) blessedness, (2) purgatory, and (3) Gehenna (Hell). The very word "Gehenna" the Holy Fathers of the Church usually refer TO THE CONDITION AFTER THE Last Judgment, when both, DEATH and HELL WILL BE CAST INTO THE "LAKE OF FIRE" (Apocalypse 20:15). The Holy Fathers of the Church, basing themselves on the word of God, suppose that the torments of sinners BEFORE the Last Judgment HAVE A PREPARATORY CHARACTER. These torments can be eased and even taken away BY THE PRAYERS OF THE Church (Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs, paragraph 18). Likewise, the fallen spirits are "RESERVED IN EVERLSTING CHAINS UNDER DARKNESS" (Hell) UNTIL THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT DAY" (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George